I have started and stopped writing this recipe for za’atar sheet pan vegetables and eggs about 20 times already, because I love this dish so much that I want to do it justice. This recipe has it all: Middle Eastern za’atar seasoning, perfectly cooked veggies and eggs, creamy avocados, briny feta, and spicy, smoky harissa. It can be prepped ahead, assembled in minutes, and only requires one bowl and one sheet pan so cleanup is a breeze. What more does a dish need?
I have a confession to make: I hate frying eggs. I’ve just never gotten the technique down, and I always end up scraping a pan at the end. Thankfully, Mr. Parsley & Parm is an expert at cooking eggs, so I’ve never had to work too hard at perfecting my technique. But I might have to tell him he’s out of a job now, because while I was developing this za’atar sheet pan vegetables and eggs recipe, I found an easier way to cook eggs that turns out perfect every time: baking them in the oven!
Sheet pan egg recipes have been around for awhile in the food blogging world. I always figured they’d make a mess out of my sheet pans, but I was very pleasantly surprised at the easy cleanup the first time I tried it. I was also surprised at how much control I had over how well the eggs were cooked. After a few rounds of trial and error, I was able to narrow down the perfect amount of cooking time to get eggs with cooked whites and runny yolks. I’ve already placed my order for Mother’s Day brunch!
Za’atar adds flavor and zest
Za’atar is an herb that grows wild throughout the Middle East, and it’s also a spice blend of the same name. The exact blend varies from culture to culture, and sometimes even family to family, but they all typically contain at least these three ingredients:
- Za’atar, which is closely related to oregano and thyme, and has a similar flavor. Some blends even use a mixture of thyme and oregano in place of za’atar.
- Sumac, a berry that is dried and ground and used as a spice. It tastes tangy and tart, much like a lemon.
- Sesame seeds, a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Some za’atar blends also contain ingredients such as cumin, coriander, or fennel, and some also contain salt. The flavor is nicely balanced between herby, tangy, and nutty, and it has become a go-to spice blend in my kitchen for roasted vegetables and chicken. It is also absolutely delicious on grilled bread and eggs, or as an alternative topping for my white bean hummus with herb salsa.
It can be hard to find a quality za’atar in the U.S., and I’ve found that many producers really skimp on the sumac in particular. I developed this recipe using the Spice Hut brand, which I found at my local specialty grocery store. It is also available online.
For more information on za’atar, check out this article from Eating Well.
Q: What can I use as a substitute for Za’atar?
The herb za’atar, which serves as a base for the spice blend of the same name, is in the oregano family and tastes quite similar. A 50/50 blend of oregano and thyme will approximate the herby flavor, and is a decent substitute for za’atar. Anything lemony can stand in for the sumac, such as lemon zest, dried lemon peel, or lemon juice. If you don’t have sesame seeds, it’s okay to leave them out, or you can add a nutty element with hemp hearts or sunflower seeds.
Add heat with harissa
I love me a good, flavorful hot sauce, and harissa has got to be near the top of my list. Harissa is a north African condiment made of roasted peppers, spices, and herbs. It has a lovely, complex roasted pepper flavor with a touch of smokiness and a pleasant amount of heat. Some brands have both hot and mild versions, although in my experience, most mild versions still have a little kick. Here are some of the harissa sauces I have tried and enjoyed:
If you don't have harissa on hand or can't find it, substitute Korean gochujang or Thai chili sauce. For a topping with no heat, there are several roasted pepper sauces available that will work. Try this mild red pepper spread from Marco Polo.
Tips for making perfect za’atar sheet pan vegetables and eggs
- Cut your pepper rings carefully. This recipe calls for cutting rings out of your bell peppers, which help contain the eggs on the sheet pan. The rings will hold a little better if they are of uniform thickness all the way through. Ideally, they should be around ½ inch thick.
- Use lots of cooking spray. Use a copious amount of cooking spray in this dish, particularly when you are spraying the pan inside the bell pepper rings before adding the eggs. I forgot to do that one time, and my pan was a mess. My go-too cooking spray is La Tourangelle Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray.
- Change up the flavors for fun and interest. This recipe has the potential to inspire endless variations to suit your family’s tastes and preferences. You could use Italian seasoning on the vegetables, and top it with torn fresh mozzarella and basil. Or Mexican seasoning, and top it with cotija cheese and cilantro or culantro. Herbs de Provence, goat cheese, and thyme is another option. The sky is the limit…but I think za’atar and feta will always remain my favorite.
Prep ahead and storage
Almost everything in this dish can be prepped ahead of time. The peppers and onions can be cut, the feta crumbled, and the cilantro washed and chopped. Technically, the potatoes can also be chopped ahead of time and kept in water in the fridge, but that can get a little dicey depending on how long you leave them in there so I prefer to chop them while the oven preheats.
If you have any leftovers…and that’s a big IF at our house…the vegetables and eggs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two. Be sure to reheat the eggs for at least a minute before consuming, and don’t keep them any longer than 2 days.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!
Questions, comments, and ratings are welcome and encouraged. Let me know what you think of this recipe for za'atar sheet pan vegetables and eggs! You’ll make my day!
Za'atar Sheet Pan Vegetables and Eggs
- 5 medium yellow potatoes cut into 1½ inch pieces
- 3 large bell peppers - red yellow, or orange
- ½ large red onion sliced into ½ inch wedges
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt divided
- 3 teaspoons za’atar see notes, divided
- Cooking spray of your choice
- 6 eggs not extra large
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves stems removed and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 large avocado peeled and sliced (optional)
- Harissa optional
- 1 cup hummus such as my white bean hummus
- Whole wheat pita bread ½-1 per person
- Place a clean, dry sheet pan in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
- Toss the potatoes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of za’atar. Set aside while your oven preheats.
- Once the oven is preheated, take the pan out of the oven and shut the oven door to preserve the heat. Spray the hot pan well with cooking spray, then dump the potatoes onto the hot pan. Use a spatula to spread them out in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
- Cut two ½-inch thick rings out of the thickest part of each bell pepper. Use a small knife to remove any pith and seeds without breaking the rings. Set aside.
- Remove the stems, seeds, and pith from the remaining bell pepper pieces and cut them into 1½ inch chunks.
- Toss the bell peppers and onions in the bowl that you tossed the potatoes with. Add the remaining olive oil, salt, and za’atar and toss.
- After the potatoes have been in the oven for 20 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and close the oven door to preserve the heat. Dump the peppers and onions onto the hot pan, and use a spatula to stir them together well. Add the bell pepper rings to the bowl and gently toss to coat them with some of the residual oil and seasoning.
- Push the veggies aside a bit to create six “wells” to fit the pepper rings. Your pan will be pretty full! I usually use a spatula to rearrange the veggies a bit, they will pile up a little. Add the pepper rings to the wells, then return the pan to the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and use tongs to turn over each of the pepper rings. Spray the pan in the middle of each of the rings with cooking spray, then carefully break an egg into each ring.
- Return the pan to the oven (careful, the eggs are runny!) and bake for 5-7 minutes, depending how well done you like your eggs. 6 minutes is usually perfect for our family. You want the tops of the eggs to be just past the point where they still look liquid.
- Top the veggies and eggs with the feta, cilantro, harissa, and avocado (you can also serve the harissa on the side if you don’t like things spicy). Serve with warm pita bread and hummus.
- Za’atar is available at some grocery stores, at Middle Eastern groceries, and online. Make sure that sumac is listed as an ingredient. You can also generally see the sumac in the blend, which is a fine, very dark red powder (some manufacturers skimp on or skip the sumac). The za’atar I used to develop this recipe can be found here.
- Check the label on your za’atar to find out whether it contains salt. If it does, you will want to cut back or eliminate the salt from this recipe.